The Food and Drug Administration ruled this week that the drug Avastin, often used in advanced breast cancer patients should not be used because there is no verifiable proof that it extends the lives of patients. The FDA also worries that the dangerous side effects of the drug outweigh the temporary benefit.
While the decision has been expected for a long time a large lobbying effort by some patients hoped to preserve Avastin as an insurer supported long-shot last measure for women with no other options.
In various studies it was shown that the drug only had a very small effect on tumor growth while rarely extending the lifespan of patients who used the drug compared to standard chemotherapy.
Among the drugs risks are high blood pressure, massive bleeding, heart attack or heart failure, along with perforations in the stomach and intestines.
Speaking about her decision to vote against the drugs use FDA commissioner, Dr. Margaret Hamburg told ABC News:
“I did not come to this decision lightly … Sometimes despite the hopes of investigators, patients, industry and even the FDA itself, the results of rigorous testing can be disappointing.”
Avastin has become the world’s best-selling cancer drug because of it’s reported ability to find colon, lung, brain cancers and kidney cancer.
While doctors can still prescribe Avastin it may no longer be approved by insurers. Avastin can cost up to $100,000 for a one year’s treatment without insurance. In some cases insurers dropped payment support for Avastin after the FDA twice said they would revoke their recommendation for the drug.
In the meantime Medicare patients will continue to receive support for Avastin but have they they “will monitor the issue and evaluate coverage options.”
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